Research Handbook on the Ombudsman
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Research Handbook on the Ombudsman

Edited by Marc Hertogh and Richard Kirkham

The public sector ombudsman has become one of the most important administrative justice institutions in many countries around the world. This international and interdisciplinary Research Handbook brings together leading scholars and practitioners to discuss the state-of-the-art of ombudsman research. It uses new empirical studies and competing theoretical explanations to critically examine important aspects of the ombudsman’s work. This comprehensive Handbook is of value to academics designing future ombudsman studies and practitioners and policymakers in understanding the future challenges of the ombudsman.
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Chapter 5: Ombudsmen: ‘hunting lions’ or ‘swatting flies’

Carol Harlow


This chapter is a plea for a new and more rational look at the function of ombudsmen primarily in the UK system but also generally. I shall argue that, in a bureaucratic age with a heavily managerial ethos, we are in danger of sacrificing individuality (the ‘personal dimension’) and diversity. I want to argue too against the piecemeal nature of reforms to the ombudsman office. There has been a failure to consider the functions of the various offices separately and take into account the different ways in which different ombudsmen may need to operate. In particular, there is a danger of under-valuing the constitutional importance of the office of Parliamentary Commissioner for Administration (PCA).

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